stand on zanzibar


It happened again. Every few years I read something in a newspaper and realize how much the world is turning out to be like the one portrayed in a book I read back in 1968 or 1969–Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner. The book, written in ’68, was set in the near future. Brunner’s world was an overpopulated place where commercialism and media have gone wild, where random people simply go nuts and start killing everyone around them, where there’s a frenzied high-tech militarism–it was the first dystopian future of the Blade Runner variety (as opposed to the Brave New World or 1984 type, I guess) that I had come across. Sort of cyber-punk without the Internet. In any case, if you’ve read it, the recent discovery that a hormone called oxytocin produces a feeling of trust in humans is also very reminiscent of this story. I’ll say no more rather than give away plot details. I loved this book when I was in high school–don’t know how it would read today.


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